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Celebrating Sandwich's top sports stories in 2017

With the calendar about to flip over to 2018, there is no better time than to look back on the top Sandwich sports stories from 2017, to recognize the sensational performances of their athletes and more. Here is a look at some of those top stories:

Schiera adds to
medal collection

Kayla Schiera will graduate from Sandwich in 2018 as one of its most decorated runners. She added to that legacy in 2017.

In May Schiera placed fourth in the Class 2A 3,200-meter run at the state track meet, breaking her own school record (11:15.18). Her finish was Sandwich’s best at state since Marlana Haefelin took fourth in the 1,600 in 2005.

Schiera wasn’t done. She later placed fifth in the 1,600 meters in 5:14.08. She did it with motivation on her right hand, the words “Run your Race.”

“That is from my mom,” Schiera said. “I’ve been known to get caught up in what everyone else is doing in a race, so my mom told me to just run my race. I guess she knows what she’s talking about.”

Schiera further cemented her legacy in November, taking eighth overall at the state cross country meet in 17:24. It’s her sixth All-State performance in running sports.

“In terms of time and place she’s the best runner we’ve ever had,” Sandwich cross country coach Chris Johnson said.

Taxis drives into record books

Evan Taxis never played running back in high school before this year.

He sure made the most of that one season.

Taxis, Sandwich’s senior running back, shattered Zach Bosek’s single-season rushing record set in 2016. He did it in style, too.

Taxis ran for 222 yards and six touchdowns in Sandwich’s Week 9 win over Seneca, finishing his season with 1,524 yards and 17 touchdowns.

“The game was indicative of how the season has gone for him,” Sandwich coach Chris VanDyke said. “It seemed like every game he was able to break off a couple long runs.”

Taxis’ best game may have been in Sandwich’s biggest. He ran for 253 yards and three TDs in the Indians’ 27-9 win over Plano, Sandwich’s first win in the Route 34 rivalry since 2013.

On campus

Ryan Njegovan, a state discus champion at Sandwich, continued his record-setting collegiate career in 2017. He won the indoor shot put national championship for Aurora University in March, and in May won the discus title at the NCAA Division III National Championships.

Njegovan also took fifth in the shot put. Aurora teammate Brandon Pichen, also from Sandwich, took fourth for Aurora in the hammer throw.

“It’s pretty relieving,” Njegovan said. “In my career I’ve finished runner-up in many competitions, but I’ve never actually got the national championship in discus.”

Slammin’ Sammi

Sammi LaBolle helped put Sandwich volleyball back on the map.

Next year, she’ll go next level.

LaBolle, who led Sandwich to back-to-back regional finals, in November committed to Western Michigan. She isn’t the first Sandwich volleyball player that will play Division I, but it is a rarity.

“As a sophomore I never thought I would be here,” LaBolle said. “It was my dream to play at the Division I level.”

The Interstate Eight is no more

No recap of Sandwich’s year in sports, though, can be complete without mentioning the uncertain future of its conference affiliation.

Sandwich, Plano and Westmont will all be searching for a new league after eight other schools in October officially announced their intention to leave the Interstate Eight Conference at the start of the 2019-20 school year.

“We have to weigh it all together, we have to look at the big picture and what’s best for us,” Sandwich Athletic Direct Timothy Gipe said.

The dissolution of the I-8 may not be complete, though.

Later in October Morris, Rochelle, Ottawa, LaSalle-Peru and Geneseo from the Northern Illinois Big 12, was invited to a meeting to discuss rebuilding the Interstate Eight.

Stay tuned.

This is one story to watch, and that we’ll be following closely, in 2018.

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